The “New York Times” reporters who write longhand

Sam Anderson and A.O. Scott both draft their stories by hand. While it may seem counterintuitive for journalists to adopt this practice under deadline, they find that they produce higher-quality and more consistent work.

Sam Anderson is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, and A.O. Scott is a co-chief film critic for the Times. According to Sarah Bahr, they both hand-write the early drafts of their submissions to the publication. “Drafting by hand lowers the stakes,” Bahr writes about Anderson, “because it doesn’t feel like ‘official’ writing yet, which helps him avoid writer’s block.”

Since I’m a self-employed journalist who drafts by hand, I agree with Scott when he says longhand helps him “forget the pressures of writing for a publication.” As important as it is to remember your audience when writing publishable content, it is no less crucial to resist burnout. Personally, handwriting is just private and intimate enough that I feel in the moment like I’m indulging this passion and inspiration for its own sake, and not because I’m forcing myself.